Tiny Dancer

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"Tiny Dancer"
Single by Elton John
from the album Madman Across the Water
B-side "Razor Face"
Released 7 February 1972
Format Vinyl record (7")
Recorded 9 August 1971; Trident Studios
(London, England)
Genre Baroque pop
Length 6:12
Label Uni (US)
Writer(s) Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer(s) Gus Dudgeon
Elton John singles chronology
"Tiny Dancer"
"Rocket Man"
Music sample
"Tiny Dancer"
Single by Ben Folds
from the album Ben Folds Live
Released 2002
Length 3:16 (single version)
5:23 (album version)
Label Epic
Ben Folds singles chronology
"Still Fighting It"
"Tiny Dancer"
"Tiny Dancer"
Single by Tim McGraw
from the album Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors
Released 2002
Format CD single
Genre Country
Length 5:09
Label Curb
Producer(s) Byron Gallimore, Darran Smith, Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw singles chronology
"Red Rag Top"
"Tiny Dancer"
"She's My Kind of Rain"

"Tiny Dancer" is a 1971 song by Elton John with lyrics by Bernie Taupin. It appears on John's fourth album, Madman Across the Water, and was released as a single in 1972. In the U.S. it was certified Gold on 19 May 2005, and Platinum on 19 August 2011 by the RIAA.[1]

Background and writing[edit]

The song was written by Taupin to capture the spirit of California in 1970 encapsulated by the many beautiful women he met there. A common misconception concerning this song is that it was written for Maxine Feibelman, Bernie Taupin's first wife. Rather, the song was simply dedicated to her on the album Madman Across the Water.[2][3]

Another common misconception is that the song references Billy Joel in the line "Piano man he makes his stand". Joel's song was based on experiences that occurred in 1972,[4] while "Tiny Dancer" was recorded in 1971.


The song features a piano-based melody during verses and an arrangement that at the start features pedal steel guitar and light percussion but, transitioning subtly halfway through one of the choruses, by the end is driven by Paul Buckmaster's dynamic strings, along with a barely heard backing choir.

Due to the song lacking a strong hook, "Tiny Dancer" was initially a non-starter as a single in the US, reaching only #41 on the U.S. pop chart, and was not even released as a single in the UK. The song fared better in Canada, where John had much of his early commercial breakthrough success, peaking at #19. It was also a hit in Australia, peaking at #13. Eventually, the song slowly became one of John's most popular songs even in the territories that initially failed to embrace it, and the full-length version is now a fixture on North American, UK and Australian adult contemporary and rock radio stations.

It was ranked No. 397 on the 2010 List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[5]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly Singles Chart (1972) Peak
Australia 13
Canadian RPM [6] 19
Canadian Adult Contemporary [7] 20
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 41
U.S. Cash Box Top 100 29

Other versions[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In 1971, John performed the song on the first series of The Old Grey Whistle Test. The performance has been released as part of The Old Grey Whistle Test - Volumes 1-3 Box Set.[13]
  • It is referenced in Rihanna's 2006 single "SOS", as she mentions the lyric "Just hold me close boy 'cause I'm your tiny dancer."
  • A reference to this song was made in sitcoms Friends and Will and Grace. In both shows, the same joke was used where a character (Phoebe in the former, Grace in the latter) confuses the lyrics as "Hold me closer, Tony Danza". The same mistake was committed in the series Drop Dead Diva.
  • The song was featured in 1980 in "The Americanization of Ivan" episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. References to the song were made throughout the show, and was featured during the closing credits.
  • The cast of Almost Famous (2000) sings along to the song while riding in the tour bus. It is also featured as instrumental incidental music in a phonic reference to the character Penny Lane.
  • The song was featured in a Budweiser TV commercial starring Peter Stormare and Andrew Sensenig that premiered during Fox Broadcasting's telecast of Super Bowl XLV on 6 February 2011.[14]
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt performed the song in a lip-syncing competition against Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Merchant on Fallon's Late Night show.[15]
  • In the season 2 episode of The Office called "The Dundies," Michael Scott sings the song but changing he words to "You have won a tiny Dundie," an office award, before bar patrons mock him, calling out "Sing it, Elton!" Later the "Tiny Dancer" chorus plays over the final scene as Jim Halpert watches Pam Beesly and Angela Martin drive away.


  1. ^ Dan, "Under Cover: Tiny Dancer - As Heard On", 20 April 2012, "[1]", 24 July 2012
  2. ^ Lyrics
  3. ^ "Tiny Dancer by Elton John", 24 July 2012.
  4. ^ Billy Joel: The Life and Times of An Angry Young Man (p. 73) by Hank Bordowitz
  5. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". 4 July 2011. Archived from the original on 7 April 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  6. ^ http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.7708&type=1&interval=50&PHPSESSID=9jd117g2lslrhg2gm7eq4es294
  7. ^ http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.7687&type=1&interval=20&PHPSESSID=4njnvrh1jgqpq28ugofunq7347
  8. ^ "Lani Hall's Tiny Dancer cover of Elton John's Tiny Dancer", "[2]", 24 July 2012
  9. ^ "Red Hot Cilli Peppers - Tiny Dancer", 11 April 2008" on YouTube, 24 July 2012
  10. ^ "Dave Grohl - Tiny Dancer", "[3]", 24 July 2012
  11. ^ "Elton heads galaxy of stars backing Lily-Mae's cancer fight", November 2012
  12. ^ "Tiny Dancer - A Song for Lily-Mae", November 2012
  13. ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test (DVD). Warner Home Video. 2003. 
  14. ^ "Budweiser Elton John Tiny Dancer Peter Stormare Super Bowl XLV Commercial Ad 2011" on YouTube, 6 February 2011, 24 July 2012
  15. ^ "Lip Sync Battle with Joseph Gordon Levitt, Stephen Merchant and Jimmy Fallon" on YouTube, 24 September 2013

External links[edit]